I have been a digital monthly reader for almost two years now and would definitely not go back to paper. The benefits of digital far outweigh the negatives for me. There are, however, a few things I do miss about going to that brick and mortar shop every week and I would like to take a few minutes to examine just a couple of them.
First and foremost, going to a comic shop is about the experience. There’s a certain feeling you get when you walk into one; the smell of the paper as you flip through the books, the sight of people bustling about, as well as the sound of fans discussing new and old books. Not all of these things can be done when reading digitally. You can’t smell the paper (I guess you could smell your screen) and you can’t see people milling about in the online store (maybe if you close your eyes, but what’s the point). Those things aside, it is still possible to chat with other fans online about books, but there’s also a catch-22. It’s also obviously not as personal. In this digital world that we now live in it becomes harder to put a face to a name and there are so many that use it as crutch to become glued to their keyboards and smart-phones. Going digital is a choice and once you do you must consider all of the good and the bad that comes with that decision. It’s definitely still possible to stay connected and active in the comic community on Facebook groups, chat rooms, etc like I previously stated; it’s just all about how much effort you want to put in, as well as pinpointing what’s most important to you.
Next, once you go digital, you simply take on more of the responsibility, especially when it comes to your monthly pull-list. There is no one helping you in the digital store, by suggesting books for you or tracking down back issues either. There is no one putting in the order for you; you put in the order for yourself. By taking that leap you are choosing to track down what you like/don’t like and because of this you might have some misses in the beginning, but that’s alright. Personally, this is not a big deal for me because after reading for 10 years, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what I do/don’t like. But, that withstanding, that doesn’t change the fact that once you go digital you forfeit that one-on-one contact and relationship with the shop owner and their staff. Horror stories aside, I have never had a traumatic experience in a shop and the knowledge and services they offer are definitely a plus, so if you decide to ditch these things you might just have to do a little extra legwork yourself, but in the end, if you are already thinking about going digital then just take the next step and you’ll be fine. It’s not that bad. I promise.
Before we close for the week, I want to make sure you all don’t worry about me because I have a secret. Are you ready for it? Here it is….I have not completely cut myself off from the comic shop (gasp). I still routinely go to pick up some trades and to just see what’s new. Like I said before; the atmosphere is great and you can’t replicate that. To be blunt, I just can’t take the typical weekly grind anymore. I never liked bagging and boarding and those singles that I’d read once and then never again just bothered me sitting in the closet collecting dust. Why buy them if I’m never going to read them again? With the creation of Comixology and the ease of digital comics I quickly realized I wasn’t as much of a collector as just a lover of the stories themselves. And, that’s fine by me. I am sure you all have reasons why you love going to the comic shop, and I’d love to hear some of yours in the comments below. Feel free to hit me up on Twitter too if you wish. In the meantime enjoy your “real” or “digital” shops and I’ll catch you all next week.